When Healthy Becomes a Dangerous Obsession: Exploring Orthorexia


We’re all familiar with the term ‘clean eating’ and know how important it is to eat the right foods in the right balance, no matter what our eating regime or diet plan is. But what if this turns into an obsession that becomes out of control? Experts are now seeing a distinct rise in the number of people suffering from a condition called Orthorexia Nervosa and with it, a fixation on so called ‘self-righteous eating’.

Exploring Orthorexia

Someone with this condition will become obsessed with the quality and purity of their food, they may avoid eating out, or anything that anyone else other than themselves has touched.

Whatever diet plan or eating regime you’re following, whether young or old, getting the right balance of nutrients is important in maintaining good health for everyone.

However, the Orthorexia sufferer will go the opposite way and become very restricted in the types of foods they will eat – often turning to a raw food diet, or one that restricts many forms of good quality proteins and micronutrients needed for healthy living. Jordan Younger, blogger and founder of ‘The Balanced Blonde’ was one such sufferer, whose vegan diet became so restrictive that her periods stopped and she became fearful of eating anything with protein in it, calling eggs her ‘fear food’.

The Orthorexic Diet

As we’ve seen, despite their obsession with health and clean living, the diet of the Orthorexic can be very lacking. The condition also spills out into other areas of life too, meaning that the sufferer may become very socially isolated, withdrawn or depressed. As their obsession increases, their physical health will suffer too, with women reporting that their periods cease, their hair starts to fall out and their teeth and nails become brittle and break easily.

Side Effects of the Condition

Sufferers may end up unaware or unable to identify any of their own physical feelings towards food:

  • They may not recognize when they are hungry
  • They may not recognize when they are full
  • If they fall off the wagon and eat anything they consider to be impure, their urges to become stricter in only eating pure food will grow stronger


Treatment for more severe cases of the condition can involve inpatient therapy and counseling, combined with anti-anxiety medications and an eating plan that will slowly reintroduce missing nutrients, proteins and minerals into the diet that have previously been cut out. It’s a highly treatable illness that has a good recovery rate.

Contributed by Jess Walter, Freelance Writer

5 ways to fuel up for exercise


work_out_imageWater, sports drinks, energy chews, protein bars, recovery shakes, bananas, carbohydrates – which should you put in your body before a workout? What about after? Which help aid weight loss? Which help aid muscle building?

We know there’s a lot to take in. That’s why our athletic trainer Jessica Thompson weighed in with these five tips for fueling up for exercise…

  1. Water is the way to go during a workout: During an actual workout or game, water is the way to go. It helps replenish and hydrate you throughout your exercise session.
  2. Save your sports drinks for before or after your sweat session: Studies have shown that the nutrients in sports drinks aren’t absorbed in your system right away, says Jessica. Therefore, use it before or after a workout when your body has time to absorb the nutrients and properly replenish.
  3. Power through strength training with protein: Hitting the gym to lift weights and do some strength training? Try to eat about 90 minutes before your workout. The pre-workout snack should consist of a protein or energy bar and some fruit, Jessica says. Protein helps you build muscle and fruit contains natural sugars to give you an energy boost.
  4. Kill your cardio workout with carbs: Ramping up for a cardio workout? Be sure to get some carbohydrates before your workout. A small meal of whole grain carbohydrates (like wheat bread or crackers) along with fruit can help you power through a cardio workout and give you the energy you need.
  5. Carbohydrates key after a workout: When recovering from a workout, it’s important to replenish yourself with plenty of carbohydrates and some proteins within 30 minutes of finishing. With its mix of carbs and protein, chocolate milk is a great recovery food. And, even though you just worked out, it’s important to avoid anything with a lot of fat, says Jessica. Your body needs nutrients after exerting itself, and that’s not something fatty foods can typically provide.

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Stay Healthy During the Holidays

By Karen Malkin

holiday-healthHoliday season can be challenging when it comes to holding onto the healthy lifestyle habits you’ve worked so hard to cultivate throughout the year. But it doesn’t have to be that way! There are small things you can do each day through the holidays and in January to help maintain your healthy ways.

If you’re someone who works better when you have a goal to stick to, you’ll love this—here’s a Mini-Challenge you can do to help you stay on track this holiday season. Just follow these 5 simple steps and you’ll feel energized and healthy despite all of the temptation in your path.

1. Drink hot water + lemon first thing in the morning

  • Improved digestion: Lemon juice flushes unwanted materials and toxins from your body. Hydrating also helps curb cravings.
  • Balanced pH: Lemons are one of the most alkalizing foods for your body; disease states only occur when your body pH is acidic.
  • Boosts immunity: Warm water and lemon juice supports the immune system by hydrating and replacing fluids lost by your body. When your body is deprived of water, you quickly feel the side effects  feeling tired, sluggish, constipation, lack of mental clarity, feeling stressed, etc. Lemons are high in vitamin C, potassium, and have anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties.

2. Eat 3 meals and 1 snack

It’s important to keep your blood sugar stable throughout the day; otherwise, you’ll end up looking for the easiest (and not necessarily the healthiest) choice when your levels drop. Do this by eating three nutritionally balanced meals and one whole-food snack every day. This allows you to burn your own body fat between meals.

3. Drink ½ your body weight in water

This will help keep you feeling full and satiated throughout the day and help kepp your cells hydrated. By drinking filtered water, you’ll also help your body flush toxins in your system.

4. Enjoy cocktails or treats on the weekends only

Remember: food is love, food is celebration, and during the holidays, you’re surrounding yourself with all of that, so give yourself permission to indulge! On the weekends, allow yourself 2 cocktails and/or 2 treats (or 1 cocktail and 1 treat) at festive celebrations.

5. Eat 5–9 servings of fruits and vegetables daily

Load up on colorful, organic, seasonal fruits and veggies whenever possible, aiming for at least 5 servings per day or 4 1/2 cups, mostly veggies. This will provide your body with lots of fiber to keep you feeling full plus a complete range of phytonutrients to keepkaren you feeling your best.

Whether you indulge or maintain your healthy habits this holiday season, my wish is
that you experience great joy and peace. I look forward to reconnecting in the New Year!

Happy, healthy 2017!


How to Form Healthy Habits that Stick

Rewire Your Brain to Create New Routines

Did you know that more than 40% of the actions we take each day aren’t actual decisions, but habits? Fortunately, your brain is malleable and habits are not destiny—it is possible to transform bad habits into healthy habits once you understand how it works.

But how do you even decide which habits you want to introduce? First, I help my clients establish SMART goals. Here’s how a SMART goal breaks down for a simple behavior change:

  • Specific – Make it clear and concise. (“I want to drink more water.”)
  • Measurable – Set criteria for progress. (“I will drink 64 ounces of water each day.”)
  • Action-Oriented – Include action directly in your control. (“I will designate a special glass for drinking water and put reminders on my phone to get up and refill.”)
  • Realistic – Ensure it is within reach. (“I have ample access to filtered water.”)
  • Timed – Tie it to a timetable. (“Within a month, I will double my daily water intake.”)

Once you have your SMART goal, I encourage you to think about your existing routines and how you can tack on your new habit. I find that “if/then” statements work well for this. For example, IF you check your email first thing in the morning, THEN you’ll grab a glass of water to drink while reading messages. As you’ll find in the following section, your “IF” is also your “Cue.”

Your Brain + Habits

Habits emerge because your brain is constantly looking for ways to save effort. In his book, The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg explains what he calls a “Habit Loop”:

  • Cue = the trigger tells your brain to go on automatic mode and let a behavior unfold
  • Routine = the behavior; it can be physical or mental or emotional
  • Reward = something your brain likes; it wants to hold onto this pattern for the future

Over time, this loop becomes more and more automatic and a habit is born. And as a cue gets more established and associated with a routine and a reward, the brain works less and less because the prefrontal cortex (the “newer” part of the brain responsible for decision-making) goes to sleep, and the basal ganglia (the “older” part of the brain responsible for emotion, memory, and pattern recognition) takes over—freeing up space for you to focus on other things. In short: When a habit emerges, the brain stops fully participating in decision making.

The trick to transforming a habit is to examine the cue, and the reward, and come up with an alternative routine to take its place—one that will deliver the same reward.

For example, if your unhealthy habit loops looks like this:

  • Cue = you feel bored
  • Routine = you mindlessly snack
  • Reward = boredom is alleviated….. temporarily.

You could replace the routine with a different activity, such as:

  • Going for a short, brisk walk or doing 15 jumping jacks
  • Grabbing an ice-cold glass of water
  • Answering a few questions of a crossword puzzle

Focus on Foundational Habits

When it comes to healthy living, I like to invest the most energy into “Foundational Habits.”  A Foundational Habit is simply a habit that can trigger widespread change in your lifestyle, as it effects many other habits. Exercising is considered a Foundational Habit in that it often triggers a desire to eat healthier, prioritize self-care, and more.

Above all else, belief in the ability to change is integral to the ability to change. Change occurs among other people. When you join a group where change seems possible, the potential for that change to occur becomes more real. Belief is easier when it occurs within a community.

To your good health,


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